Archive for July, 2008

I had the privilege of being a bridesmaid at Matt and Cyra’s wedding on Friday.  It was a beautiful day – sunshine, flowers, good food, and an ecstatically happy couple.  As I watched them exchange vows that evening, and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes during their first dance, and talk with anticipation about their honeymoon, I wondered, “Have Shane and I lost that newlywed spark?”  In a sense, yes, much of the “newness” of marriage has worn off.  But in its place, we have built a partnership that is full of comfort and understanding.  This isn’t to say that we’ve become a tired, boring, old couple (Shane has yet to refer to me as “the old ball and chain”, thank goodness), but we have definitely settled into our life together.  Each day, we know one another a little better than we did the day before.  We have come to understand when to pursue being together and when to give each other some alone time.  We have discovered each other’s pet peeves (I forget to turn the lights off when I leave a room, Shane puts a nearly-empty milk carton back in the fridge) and are trying to curb these small annoyances.  We have set goals together (money to save, trips to take, interests to develop) and we encourage each other toward realizing these dreams.  These are all good things.  But do we forget sometimes to be spontaneous and fun-loving and passionate?  Yes.  This is something to work on.  I know that it’s possible to combine the solidity of our life together with the excitement and joy that comes with being very much in love – it just might take a little effort.  But it’s a worthy endeavor with great rewards…

I got my third “pass” letter in the mail this week for my architectural licensing exams.  3 down!  But 6 more to go…  I never anticipated this being such a laborious process.  When I started studying for my first test back in February, I thought I might enjoy falling back into study-mode, reliving a small piece of student life.  I thought it would be fun to spend my Saturdays at a cafe with my books and flashcards.  I was wrong.  I am putting off doing that very thing as I sit here and type – I should be off somewhere else, distraction-free, studying for my upcoming test on Monday.  Instead, I have already spent much of today surfing the internet, cleaning the house, doing a little yard work.  I guiltily took a 30-minute nap after lunch.  Shame on me for not being the studious architect-in-training that I know I should be…  Some of the study material has been interesting, but I’m down to needing to memorize the nitty-gritty details, like the proper slope of a storm drain line, or the difference between mediation and arbitration in terms of an building-related lawsuit.  Why can’t the architectural licensing process require things like building cool models or using travel to experience the way that culture informs architecture?  One can only wish…

I am looking forward to having this process behind me so that I can enjoy spending more time on my neglected hobbies – I’m afraid the “now painting”, “now reading”, and “now stitching” pages I’ve posted on this blog don’t rotate nearly as frequently as I’d like with completed projects and new endeavors.  All the more motivation to get these tests DONE.

more weekly sketches (some more successful than others)…

birds on a wire – ink, acrylic paint, printed paper (07.02.08):

rooted plant (07.18.08):

After weeks of talking about how much we want to/need to get out of town, Shane and I finally pulled a plan together and headed to Vancouver, BC for the weekend.  A very uneventful drive and border crossing brought us into the city around 11 am yesterday.  The weather was fantastic, and so we headed straight to Stanley Park to soak up some rays and bask in beauty of all these wonderful shades of green.  The size of the park can be a little overwhelming at first, and so we just picked a destination on the park map and headed in that direction, sure that we would enjoy whatever trails we ended up on.  Our destination was Beaver Lake, which turned out to be more of a marsh than a lake, but it turns out that a sea of lily pads can be just as pretty as a sea of water.

After our nature-dose, we went over to Yaletown for lunch.  We stumbled upon a Thai restaurant with an all-you-can-eat lunch special and a patio in the sun, and so we grabbed a table and started ordering away.  Spring rolls, yellow curry, cashew chicken, garlic pork, rice pudding…  I am always a little uncertain about what kind of quality to expect from anything that is all-you-can-eat, but the food was actually quite good.  We practiced restraint as best as we could and left feeling satisfied, but not over-stuffed, and ready for more sight-seeing.

We checked into our hotel downtown and spent a couple of hours wandering around the downtown core.  Strolled down Robson Street, but again, in the name of restraint, I did not go into any stores.  The sidewalks felt a little crowded in this part of town, and so we decided to head over to the Seawall and enjoy walking along the water.  Vancouver has so many great places to sit on a bench and take in the scenery, which is just what we did for the first part of our evening.

Once our Thai lunch was fully digested (which took several hours), we walked over to Gastown to grab some beer and food.  Found a great little bar/pub with a small terrace area and spent a couple of hours drinking, eating, chatting.  Shane and I hadn’t realized how long it had been since we’d spent an entire evening just focusing on each other.  It was good to catch up.

After dinner, we spent awhile strolling around Gastown.  This neighborhood is somewhat reminiscent of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, but it’s a little more touristy and a little more “rough around the edges”.  I love the character of Gastown’s old brick buildings, but in between those beautiful old buildings are some super-sketchy alleyways…  The recommendation of a trusted friend led us down one of those sketchy alleys and into this amazing little tucked-away wine and cheese bar called The Salt Tasting Room.  Our time here was probably the highlight of the weekend.  Clean, simple decor, dim lighting, and a chalkboard wall filled with listings of their current meat and cheese selections.  Not being cheese connoisseurs by any stretch, we asked out waitress to surprise us with a sample platter of her recommendations, paired with whatever wines she thought best.  I have always liked cheese, but after last night, I have found that I actually loooove cheese.  She brought us a creamy blue cheese, which we drizzled with honey, an aged cheddar, and a Compte that made me go “mmmmmmm…” every time I took a bite.  The wines were fantastic as well.  My only wish is that we would have had room in our stomachs to sample some of the meats.  Next time, I guess (and there WILL be a next time at this place).

Our room had a great view and the perfect end to a perfect day was laying in bed and looking out the window at this.  Not bad…

We spent this morning at Granville Island, wandering through the huge public market and checking out a few of the local shops and art galleries.  I could have spent an entire day at the market, indulging my senses.  Granville has this great little water park right next to the market, where kids can romp around the fountains while parents lounge on the nearby grass, and though we are neither kids nor parents, we still enjoyed spending awhile here, just checking out the scene from our shady bench.  This part of town is definitely another thing on our “revisit” list.

It was a hard to leave after getting just the smallest taste of all this city has to offer.  The question now is: when can we go back?

I was irritable today (unfortunately, Shane can confirm this).  I don’t know if it’s work, or my pesky summer-time allergies, or the fact that I couldn’t fall back asleep this morning when Shane got up at 4 a.m. to go stand in line for an iPhone, but I found myself getting incredibly bent out of shape by the most insignificant things.  Cases in point:

I was out at the jobsite all day today and popped over to a nearby supermarket/deli for lunch.  I was sitting at a table, enjoying my broccoli-cheese soup and sourdough roll, when I watched a man walk up to the tray of bite-size doughnut samples near the counter and commit a crime of total germ-spreadery.  The tray had a pair of plastic tongs sitting next to it and a note that said “PLEASE use tongs!”  As a slight germo-phobe, I can appreciate the sanitary reasons for not wanting people to reach their hands into a pile of food samples.  The man picked up the tongs, which was a good start, but then he placed the doughnut sample directly into his mouth from the tongs.  I think there may have even been lip-to-tong contact!  While this is definitely a little gross, I shouldn’t have let myself react with such repulsion.  My eyes followed the man with an icy glare as he moved about the store.  In retrospect, his show of such poor manners is almost funny.  Laughing might have been a more suitable reaction.

Irritable moment number 2 (or was is number 8?  I lost count today…) occurred when I got on the bus to go back to the office from the site.  It was a full bus, and my feet were tired from another day of punchlists.  I walked toward the back of bus, hoping to find an empty seat.  There was indeed an empty seat, but a woman had her purse sitting there.  She made absolutely no attempt to move her purse to her lap, even when I grabbed onto the pole near her seat and made a clear effort to look for a place to sit.  I hovered over her for the next couple of stops, grumbling something to the effect “that is soooo rude” under my breath.  She just watched me stand.  Really, I could have and should have politely asked her to move her bag, but in my grumpy state, I found it much more satisfying to pout and complain.  So silly of me.

The good news is that it is now Friday evening and I am contentedly enjoying a cup of tea in our quiet house while Shane is out having a beer with a friend.  I’ll have to apologize to him when he gets home – my first words when I walked in the door this evening were “I thought you were going to clean the house this afternoon!”  Not exactly the warm hug and “How was your day, Honey?” he was hoping for… Thank goodness he is a forgiving and understanding man.

Shane and I took advantage of the Seattle Art Museum’s extended hours on Thursday night and spent some time wandering through their new Impressionist exhibit.  The title of the exhibit is “Inspiring Impressionism” and it explores the links between the Impressionists and the significant European artists that preceded them.  After perusing the galleries, Degas’ “Visitors to A Museum” (shown below) was the one painting I was drawn back to.  This is what I love about the Impressionists – Degas wasn’t afraid to leave things rough around the edges, slightly unfinished, sketchy.  The hem of the woman’s dress isn’t delineated by a hard line – it’s left as a blurry streak between light and dark.  I wish I could paint with such freedom.  I have such a strong tendency to paint/draw with solid, crisp blocks of color – everything has a definite edge.  Degas imparted an underlying sense of emotion into all of his work.  I look at pieces like the one below and can just imagine him painting with his quick, free brushstrokes.  Striking.

This book tells the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man that gives away all of his money and possessions, cuts his ties with his family, and heads into the Alaskan bush to deeply commune with nature.  McCandless was never heard from again – his starved remains were discovered in the wild several months after his Alaskan trek began.  This was a fascinating read for me, so far removed from anything I’ve experienced or even dreamed of.  Admittedly, I am a materialistic person, far more attached to my comfortable lifestyle than I’d like to be.  “Roughing it”, in my terms, is driving to a campsite, setting up our tent, inflating our queen-size air mattress,  cooking a well-rounded meal over our gas campstove, and brushing my teeth at the nearby bathroom facilities.  The thought of heading into unknown territory for an indefinite amount of time with nothing more than what I could carry on my back seems impossible.  This glimpse into what “living off the land” really means is intriguing.  Could I make it in the wild?  Probably (and by probably, I mean definitely) not.  Looks like I’ll continue to satisfy my nature-cravings with Sunday strolls in the park…